NEIL LENNON didn’t even attempt to hide his delight following Celtic 2-0 victory over Cluj at rain-lashed Parkhead last night that saw his team move to the top of Europa League Group E.
A goal in each half from Odsonne Edouard and Mohamed Elyounoussi pushed the Hoops move to the summit while their next opponents Lazio overcame Rennes 2-1 in Rome.
Lennon, though, revealed one regret – he wished his players had piled on the goals against the Romanians who extinguished the club’s Champions League ambitions in August.
The Irishman is now convinced Scotland’s title kings can take their section by storm and is now convinced they are ready for the double-header against their Serie A rivals.
Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “It was very exciting. It’s great to be back as a manager on that stage at Celtic Park. We wanted a strong performance from the team and I got more than that.
PARADISE…Odsonne Edouard celebrates his opening goal.
“I thought we were outstanding.
“My only disappointment is that we didn’t win the game by more. They are functioning as a team, there is a real solidity about us and fluidity going forward.
“We looked really strong and thoroughly deserved the win. There was some outstanding individual performances and from one to 11, I thought we were absolutely excellent against a very good side.
“So, I’m getting great performances from the team. I think there is more to come. I said to the players that I think we have the makings of a good side.
“It’s embryonic in the season and I’m not getting carried away. But I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted for the supporters, as well, to have European football back here and a good performance from the team. It was exciting and we created a lot of chances.
“We are top of the group and it’s a great start. It’s early, the group is still open, it’s tight. Cluj and Lazio both have three points and you can’t write Rennes off.
“However, the performances I’ve had in the first two games have given us a lot of food for thought in a positive way.
“I am enjoying working with the team. There are going to be dips here and there, but the start they’ve made and the way they’ve kicked on from the first Cluj game has given me a lot of things to think about in positive way.”
MO THE FIRST…new Bhoy Mohamed Elyounoussi shows his delight at getting off the mark at Celtic with the second goal.
Cluj boss Dan Petrescu immediately tipped Celtic and Lazio to qualify for the last 32 and the Hoops gaffer smiled: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? I’ve learned to take what Dan says with a pinch of salt.
“I think anyone could win it, we’re only two games in. It’s still wide open. We’ve got to go to Lazio and that’s going to be very difficult, but we’ve given ourselves a foothold in the group.”
Now Lennon admitted he is eagerly anticipating two thrilling confrontations with Lazio and added: “Very much so. It’s great. I think we will all look forward to it.
“We have a big game on Sunday and then the international break, but I think our form has been absolutely excellent so far, without getting carried away.”
The Parkhead boss is now preparing to take his players to Livingston for the noon kick-off on Sunday as they get back to the business of stacking up the Premirship points following the 1-1 stutter against Hibs at Easter Road last weekend.